An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days by Susan Wittig Albert

This is a stunningly beautiful book on many levels.  Susan Wittig Albert is probably best known for her China Bayles mysteries, and she also writes the Cottage Tales Mysteries featuring Beatrix Potter and the Darling Dahlia mysteries, about a garden club in the South in the 1930’s.  With her husband, Bill, she co-wrote a series of Victorian mysteries as “Robin Paige”.

AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS is her journal of 2008, a daily account of her life, work, and changing perception about issues such as climate change that seem far away, but, in reality, affect every day of our lives.  The journal talks about her writing schedule — the China Bayles mystery she’s writing, the one that’s in edits, the one that’s released — her Cottage Tales schedule,  the spark of the idea for the Darling Dahlias series, and the production process of her memoir, TOGETHER ALONE.  She demonstrates how a working writer shows up and gets the work done, without sacrificing the small joys of daily life.  She revels in the daily life of 31-acre Texas property and the house in the mountains of New Mexico.

With intelligence that’s both gentle and sharp, she reads voraciously, inquisitively, and applies what she learns to both work and life.  This book is wonderful for writers at all stages of their careers, for women entering a new phase of life (the journal covers her sixty-ninth year), and for anyone who is interested and/or believes in stewardship of the land.  It is personal, conversational, passionate, and wonderful.  She has quotes from her reading running along the margins, and offers both a monthly reading list and an extended bibliography in the back.

The book was released in 2010, by the University of Texas Press.  I first read it in 2011, and re-read it over the past few days, gorging myself on this glorious feast of words.

Visit her website for more information about her books here.

No Such Thing As Too Many Books

. . .although I think I may have come close on my last trip to The Book Barn in Niantic with Costume Imp a few weeks ago.

This was my haul:

Books about Books and Writing:
Hamlet’s Dresser by Bob Smith
Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down: A Unique Guide for Writers by Christi Killien and Sheila Bender
A Critic’s Notebook by Irving Howe
Antiquarian Books: An Insider’s Account by Irving Howe
Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography by Michael Holroyd

General Non-Fiction:
The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code by Lesley and Roy Adkins
Stork Club: American’s Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe Society by Ralph Blumenthal
The Big House: A Century in the Life of An American Summer House by George Howe Colt
My Pamet: Cape Cod Chronicle by Tom Kane
W H Auden: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman
The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism by Megan Marshall
Deities and Dolphins: The Story of the Nabataeans by Nelson Glueck
The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook by Wolfgang Puck

Gardening:
Natural Affairs: A Botanist Looks at the Attachments Between Plants and People by Peter Bernhardt
The Living Garden: The 400-year History of an English Garden by George Ordish
Hollies by H. Harold Hume
New England Gardner’s Guide by Jacqueline Heiriteau and Holly Hunter Stonehill
The Cottage Gardner’s Companion by The Cottage Garden Society
Creative Garden Features by Roger Sweetinburgh
A Ceiling of Sky: Special Garden Rooms and the People Who Created Them by Pat Ross
Ortho’s All About Container Gardening
A Year in Your Garden (The Essentials Collection)
Gardening: The Complete Guide to Growing America’s FAvorite Fruits and Vegetables by the National Gardening Association.

Fiction:
About Face by Donna Leon
The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon
Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott
The Art Thief by Noah Charney
White as Snow by Tanith Lee
Thunderbird Falls by CE Murphy
Heart of Stone by CE Murphy
Heartlight by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The ShapeChanger’s Wife by Sharon Shinn
Heart of Gold by Sharon Shinn
Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Wolf and the Raven by Diana L. Paxson
Derrskin by Robin McKinley
The Fairy of Ku-She by M. Lucie Chin
Witch and Wombat by Carolyn Cushman
Horse Fantastic, an anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Rosalind M. Greenberg
Hotel Andromeda, an athology editoed by Jack L. Chalker
Rebel Fay by Barb & JC Hendee
Child of a Dead God by Bard & JC Hendee

Esoterica, Spiritual, Herbal:
The Modern Witch’s Book of Herbs and Healing by Sarah Lyddon Morrison
Yearning for the Wind: Celtic Reflections on Nature and the Soul by Tom Cowan
Gossips, Gorgone & Crones: The Fates of the Earth by Jane Caputi
Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Noragh Jones

. . .I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned in Ink in My Coffee that I needed help getting them to the car!